Monday, October 3, 2022

Natural Alternatives to Drano

Let’s face it, we’ve all dealt with clogged drains—whether it’s due to hair, dirt, soap, or food waste. Not only is it a hassle to deal with, but it can actually turn into major problems. For example, it can cause flooding, corrosion, or in some cases, sewage backup, all of which can lead to costly repairs.

One way to fix that is by using Drano. For those who don’t know, it’s a brand of drain cleaner that’s designed to clear blocks when poured down a drain. How does it work? By dissolving whatever’s clogging the pipes.

Keep in mind, however, that it won’t work for all types of clogs. It’s also filled with chemicals so you may want to avoid it if you’re sensitive to fumes. That’s not all, it can also damage your plumbing pipes with repeated use (the heat created by the chemical reaction can damage them over time).

Fortunately, there are alternatives that you can use instead—ones that are made from natural ingredients. That way, you won’t have to worry about damaging your pipes or inhaling any chemicals.

For those who are interested, be sure to keep reading because that’s what we’ll be going over in this post.

1. Use Baking Soda and White Vinegar

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a chemical compound that’s often used as a leavening agent in baking. And guess what? it can also be used to treat clogs! The best part? You probably already have some at home.

Start by boiling some water. You can either use a kettle on the stovetop or the microwave.

Next, squirt some dish soap into the affected drain. Once you’ve done that, carefully pour the boiling water down the sink. The dish soap and boiling water will help to dissolve the clog.

But first, you’ll need to pour one cup of baking soda into the drain. We highly recommend using a funnel or a measuring cup if you have a smaller drain as it can be difficult to pour the powder into the opening.

Once the baking soda is in, add one cup of distilled white vinegar—just pour it into the drain. It’ll mix with the baking soda that’s already inside and dislodge whatever’s blocking the drain. Don’t be alarmed if you hear sounds coming from inside; that’s just part of the chemical process.

Wait 5-10 minutes, until the fizzing has subsided, and add two more cups of boiling water.  The goal is to flush the drain with all the water. If the drain is still clogged, repeat the above steps. Depending on the size of it, you may need to repeat the baking soda flush a few times.

2. Use Baking Soda and Salt

If the baking soda and vinegar method doesn’t work or if you don’t have vinegar, you can use salt instead.

Measure one cup of baking soda and pour it down the affected drain (use a funnel if you have to). Next, pour in 1/2 cup of salt—it’ll help scrape some of the debris from within your pipes. Leave the mixture in there for several hours (overnight, if possible).

In the morning, boil two cups of water and carefully pour it down into the drain. If the water goes down, continue to flush with hot water. If the drain doesn’t drain after you add boiling water, repeat the above steps.

3. Use Dish Soap

Is your sink clogged with grease? If so, you may want to give dish soap a try.

For example, you can use Dawn detergent. Mix it with hot water and it’ll help to dissolve the grease that’s clogging the pipes. That’s not all, it’ll also lubricate the drain so that it’ll be easier to remove the clog.

Start by boiling some water. You’ll need to combine it with the detergent for it to work. While it’s boiling, pour one cup of dish detergent (any liquid dish soap will do) into the affected drain.

Next, pour one cup of boiling water down the drain. Once it’s in, use a plunger. Position it over the drain and push it down to create a hard seal. Plunge the drain for at least 30 seconds in quick succession. The hot water and detergent will work together to flush the clogged object out. If you want, you can even alleviate the clog yourself—just make sure to put on a pair of rubber gloves!

Repeat until the drain is able to drain normally (depending on the size of the clog, it may take several tries).

Note: Dish soap won’t harm your pipes so you can use it as many times as you’d like to unclog your drain!

4. Use a Drain Snake

A drain snake is a long, flexible tool with a cone-shaped auger at the end. They’re often used if a plunger isn’t enough to remove a clog from the drain. It’ll help break up parts of the clog so that it can be flushed through the drain. In some cases, it may also pull the clog right out.

Start by pushing the snake into the drain opening. You want the auger to go deep down where the clog is.

Continue to push the snake into the drain. You may have to apply a bit of pressure to get it to bend at the curve under the sink. Once you’ve passed that point, however, it’ll slide in easily.

Rotate the snake once you’ve hit the clog—that’ll allow the tip of the snake to attach to the clog so that it can spin or chop it away (assuming that it’s soft). If the blockage is a solid object, you can use the auger to help pull it out (the twisting should get easier).

Ensure that the drain is unclogged by running water for a few minutes. In some cases, the clog may come out attached to the snake. It may also flush down the drain. At the end of the day, it depends on what the blockage is.

Tip: Some drain snakes can be attached to an electric drill as an attachment. That’ll give you more power so that you can push it through the clog.

5. Use Caustic Soda

Caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide, is a highly caustic base that you can use to eliminate clogs. It works by dissolving grease and fats into soap, which will dissolve in water. It’ll also generate heat, which will help clean the pipes.

Unlike baking soda (and other ingredients for that matter), however, it’s extremely harsh. For one thing, it can easily cause chemical burns if it comes into contact with your skin. It can also irritate the eyes. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you wear rubber gloves and goggles when dealing with the substance.

Boil some water on a stovetop. Fill a large bucket (make sure it’s not one that you plan on reusing for food) with three liters of cold water and add three cups of caustic soda. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon; there should be some fizz as it combines.

Once it’s mixed, pour the solution down the clogged drain and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes. Flush the drain with the boiling water afterward. If the clog persists, you may have to repeat the above steps.

Tip: You can find caustic soda at most hardware stores.

6. Clean the P Trap

The plumbing trap, also known as the ‘p-trap’, is a u-shaped pipe that collects and drain water under the sink. It also creates a gravity barrier (due to the sharp drop), which prevents sewage gas fumes from coming back up into the house.

Due to its shape, however, it’s also a common place for clogs to form. For example, hair and other debris can collect in the pipes.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to clean the P-trap. Start by turning off the water faucet; you don’t want the sink to be running when you’re cleaning the area (there’s no need to shut off the water entirely).

Place a large bucket under the P-trap (in case anything comes out) and remove the nuts on the sides of the pipes—that’ll allow you to take it out. If the trap is stuck in place, you may need to pull it out with a wrench or pliers.

Carefully take out the P-trap and empty the contents into the bucket (water may spill out as soon as you loosen the nuts – it all depends on how full it is). Once you’ve done that, you can clean the inside of the trap with a flexible wire brush. Simply push it through the pipes and it’ll remove anything that’s stuck inside. You can also use your hands to pull out anything that’s visible.

Once everything is nice and clean, you can put the P-trap back together. If anything, the process is similar to when you took it apart.

Line up the pipe under the sink and carefully screw the nuts back in place. Don’t push too hard, though, as that can damage the trap. And remember, the long end of the pieces always faces the front.

From there, all that’s left is to test the pipe. Turn on the faucet and let the water run for 30 seconds. If there’s no leak in the P-trap, you’re good to go. If water comes out from the nuts, however, you may need to reinforce the seal or tighten them.

Tip: Make a habit of cleaning the P-trap every three months or so. That’ll allow you to prevent clogs from forming in the first place!

7. Use a Wet and Dry Vacuum

Believe it or not but you can actually clear a clogged drain with a wet and dry vacuum. First things first, you want to remove the cover from the drain. It’s also a good idea to seal the overflow hole with a wet rag (assuming that there’s one in the sink or tub). If you don’t seal it up, the vacuum will be less effective against the clog.

Turn the faucet on and allow a few inches of water to accumulate in the sink. Put a wet rag over the drain opening and press the end of your wet dry vacuum against the drain; you want to create a tight seal. Once you’ve done that, turn the vacuum on. The powerful suction will pull out any object that’s clogging the drain.

Depending on what it is, however, you may have to adjust the seal and repeat the process a few times.

Tip: Don’t use a wet dry vacuum if you recently used chemicals to try and unclog the drain. The vacuum may pull the chemicals back up and the last thing that you want is to get it all over yourself!

When you’re finished, turn off the wet dry vacuum. Remove the hose part from the drain and turn on the faucet. Let the water run for a bit so that you can ensure that the clog is out.

If the water is still taking a long time to drain, there may be another clump of grime blocking the drain. If that’s the case, you’ll want to repeat the above steps to get it out.

bridget@gazettereview.com'
Bridget Rogers
Bridget Rogers is an independent freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Bridget's work can be found on a variety of sources in both online and print media.
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